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Contentious Spontaneous Forfeit Minigame

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A forfeit-based live-action game with no clearly defined rules, often deliberately so to create humourous situations.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Omicron on Aug 1st 2012 at 2:22:51 PM
Last Edited By:
Nadim on Jan 3rd 2018 at 9:05:19 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Related to Parlor Games, but simpler. The premise is that there is a vague, nonspecific agreement on the 'rules' of forfeit minigames such as Punch Buggy (you may punch someone if you spot a VW Beetle before they do, provided you call out "Punch Buggy <colour name>"), Jinx (when two or more people say something at the same time, inclusive of yourself, you may Jinx them, which depending on the variant may require them to remain silent until you say their name, they give you a Coke or some combination of the above) and Fire Hydrant Free Hit (when a person that walks over a Fire Hydrant sign in the road may be punched by anyone in the vicinity).

The conditions for inclusion into the trope

  1. The game must be spontaneous and played in real-time.
  2. The game must have various rules/playstyles, with no 'consensus' about which set of rules to follow
  3. The game specifically allows that even people that are unaware of the rules or even the game's existence may become forfeit victims, depending on how nice their friends are.
  4. There must be no obvious 'reward' for winning, except your feeling of smugness over your friend (i.e. calling shotgun for cars would be excluded)
  5. The game must be simple - if there are any written rules, they shouldn't require more than a couple of average-length sentences to describe in full.
  6. The game is ongoing, i.e. not round-based, and indefinite.

Expect there to be arguments over interpretations of 'rules' if there are any, yet people end up forfeiting regardless. Also, expect that people whose friends play these games slowly begin to absorb them and they do things such as skipping over FH signs while alone or saying 'Punch Buggy ' and then stopping because no one is around to hear it.

Related to Calvinball, as an essential aspect of both tropes is that humour is derived from one or more characters having an incomplete knowledge of the rules and yet must still play the seemingly illogical game, because of Rule of Funny.

I can personally confirm Truth in Television for all of the above that I have mentioned.


Live-Action TV

  • Played with in How I Met Your Mother. Barney started believing since his accident in "Miracles". In "The Finale Page", he gets jinxed throughout the entire episode and his friends make fun of him by refusing to say his name. When he is accidentally unjinxed by Ted in the end, Barney briefly jinxes him to tell him about his proposal plan and then jinxes Marshall and Lily in retaliation.


Western Animation

  • Inverted in an episode of Recess where Gus is jinxed and then his friends later jinx the Ashleys back for revenge - this counts as an inversion because no-one argued about or discussed the rules of Jinx.

Feedback: 8 replies

Aug 1st 2012 at 3:26:07 PM

You're correct that it is probably more of a Real Life trope, but what makes it distinct from Calvinball is that

  1. the game is INTENDED to be simple
  2. the confusion derives from there being multiple interpretations of existing, ill-defined rules codified by multiple people, rather than by players spontaneously generating new rules at the time of play
  3. the 'players' do not need to be aware they are even 'playing' the game at the time. (Walked on a Free Hit? Too bad, you get punched). In Calvinball, players are at least aware of their participation in an illogical game.

Aug 1st 2012 at 5:54:26 PM

Wow, that's a lot of conditions. Are there really a lot of examples of something that specific?

Aug 2nd 2012 at 12:11:44 AM

  • In an early episode of Happy Days a random extra takes a fake swipe at Potsie, who flinches. "Two for flinching!" and punches Potsie in the shoulder twice, followed by a wipe. Potsie remarks back "Kid stuff!" but then tries it on Ralph, who doesn't flinch.
  • The Game, which you just lost.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons Bart & Lisa play punch buggy during a school Field Trip, teaching it to the other third-graders on the bus. [At the time, Bart had been demoted to the third grade and Lisa had been promoted to the third grade.]

Aug 2nd 2012 at 1:29:20 PM

Today, I was thinking about The Game (and humorously realising that this would cause me to lose it, lol) in the context of this trope, but I couldn't identify what forfeit losing the Game constitutes exactly and couldnt confirm whether it would fit my conditions. At best one could say "Played With", unless someone has a rule-set specifying that The Game includes forfeits, which would be playing it straight.

Having to explain the rules as with The Simpsons would be playing it straight too, thanks for the examples.

The reason there are so many conditions is because my friend and I had a discussion about the mechanics of these games we play with each other, and I said "Hey, this should be on TV Tropes", but if I was going to post it I wanted to make sure that any examples given would be in the spirit of the mechanics we thought were relevant to the games.

Aug 2nd 2012 at 1:50:59 PM

2.The game must have various rules/playstyles, with no 'consensus' about which set of rules to follow

I think if you took this part (or at least made it not a requirement) you could get a lot more examples to fit.

Aug 2nd 2012 at 10:28:12 PM

  • "Jinx!" Two people say the same thing at the same time, one of them yells "Jinx" and the other can't talk - or something like that. Various rules exist.
    • Used in a sketch on Saturday Night Live where Juilia Louis-Dreyfus and Mary Gross play friends since childhood who are now both with the US Communist Party. They're being interviewed on a local Public Affairs show. They keep starting to answer in unison, followed by each saying simultaneously "Jinx, buy me a coke!" and then a complex chant-and-dance. Needless to say, this disrupts the serious news program.
    • In an episode of The Simpsons Lisa is having a Slumber Party and Bart gets tricked into saying the same thing as Janey at the same time, then is yelled "Jinx" at. He can't talk until someone says his name. Bart tries to get Homer to say his name, but Homer doesn't do it.
      Homer: What is it, boy?
      Bart: Mmph. Mmph. Mmph.
      Homer: Is anything the matter, my son? Talk to me, young man.
      Bart: [takes a pad and writes, "Say my name."]
      Homer: Say your name? Why should I do that, my lad?
      Bart: Because I'm jinxed, dammit!
      Homer: [punches Bart in the arm]
      Bart: Ow! What was that for!?
      Homer: You spoke while you were jinxed, so I get to punch you in the arm! Sorry, it's the law.

re The Game: IDK if you'd count it as a forfeit, but one of the rules is that you must announce you've lost publicly - which then makes everyone else in the immediate vicinity also lose.